Sunday, August 12, 2007

Call Me Sgt. Schultz ("I Know NOTHING!")


Pardon the obscure "Hogan's Heroes" reference. But that's pretty much how I feel after watching the video highlights and reading the after-action reports posted around the web. Her Loyal Sons had what is, for me, the definitive review of the day's events:

I can’t get a handle on anything. Was there one shooter, or was there something going on at the grassy knoll? Either a few of the kickers were encouraging, or we’re in for the worst spell of kicking in the history of the program. Either the offense was dominating, or, oh yeah, there was no actual tackling in any of the scrimmage, so it’s impossible to tell.
I left a pretty long comment to the HLS post, and I'll just put a slightly amplified version of it here.

Being in California, I obviously couldn't make it to the practice. But I did watch all the video posted at UND.com, and I have read all the reports. I don’t know if I can definitively say anything, except:

1. Armando Allen did look pretty darn good. Quick, and more importantly, decisive.

2. Hughes excited me. Very powerful, good speed.

3. From the video, Thomas, Allen and Hughes looked like our top three running backs. Aldridge seemed to get caught up in traffic more, and I didn't really notice Jabbie.

4. Sharpley looked (to me) like the best QB. Most assured in the pocket, and on his throws. Jones has a live arm and moves well, but was inconsistent. I think Coach Weis is all about controlling the ball, moving the chains and not making turnovers. I agree with those who thought Clausen looked tentative on his throws. Is Charlie Weis playing the greatest game of sandbagging ever? (More on the quarterbacks at the end).

5. Zibby’s punt return “touchdown” was not a touchdown (a defender clearly put two hands on him early and would have likely tackled him if they were live).

6. It seemed to me that the line play was only going about 80% speed. Very little real smash-mouth going on. That, and the poor overall quality of the video posted at UND.com (too small, too grainy) makes it very difficult to evaluate line play. So I won't try.

7. Much has been made of the coaches requiring the defense to "run" a lap around the field when they lined up with only ten men on one play, as though the coaches were really cracking the whip. I was disappointed in how most of the guys dogged it on the lap. They pace was very slow, and many of the guys cut the corners in the end zones. I know the guys are fatigued after a week of camp, but maybe the reason USC and LSU run laps around us on game day is that we don't really "run" our laps at practice. Practice slow and play slow. Maybe I'm being unfair and too harsh, but that "lap" bothered me.

All in all, it was way better than watching 20 minutes of stretching, but I still couldn’t help but feel that the open practice was more of a walk-through than a real dress rehearsal.

As for the quarterbacks. I saw nothing in yesterday's video that changed my mind from what I posted in late May:
I think Evan Sharpley gets first shot in the Fall, based upon his experience at running the offense. But he's on a short leash. If he doesn't "make plays" then Jones and Clausen will battle it out to see who can move the team the best - Clausen primarily with his arm, or Jones as a dual pass-run threat. At the end of the day, Coach Weis will go by what he sees on the field. Whichever QB moves the team best and makes the most plays will be the starter, regardless of "potential." At the end of the day, it might be the team that decides. Sometimes a team just responds better, plays better, for a particular quarterback. Which quarterback will most quickly earn the loyalty, respect, and confidence of his teammates?
I still think Sharpley's the guy. If he shines, he'll remain the guy. If he falters or just isn't sparking the team, then Clausen or Jones will step in. Which of those two guys gets first shot after Sharpley will depend on a couple of factors: (1) How is the pass protection holding up? (2) How does Jimmy's arm feel? If the running game is being effective, and if the O-line is protecting the passer, then J.C. gets first shot off the bench if he's healthy, because all we'll really be in need of is a new trigger man. But if Sharpley is struggling because the offensive line is struggling and the receivers can't get open, then Jones will be needed to come in and make plays with his legs as well as him arm.

Don't sell Sharps short. He's a Division I athlete in two sports, football and baseball. His playing time in football has been limited, but he's been playing baseball against top collegiate competition. That ability to perform under pressure is key, although the Irish rarely draw 80,000 fans for a baseball game. He has the most time in the system, and he was good enough to send Zach Frazer packing.

1 comment:

sir john said...

Nice analysis OC. Your on the beans.